I’m the girl who collected music boxes. Each one was delicately carved and crafted as if they were made just for me. I remember losing myself in each heart soaring note while the fragile little figures twisted and twirled, delicately dancing to the sighs of my youth. Watching those tiny dancers was one of the only ways I could pass the time while locked away inside my dingy little room. I remember the thin, mustard-yellow bedspread and the thread-bare golden colored carpet. The uninspiring small room couldn’t have been more unappealing, and my imagination was my only saving grace. There was always a book resting on my knee and a flashlight hidden beneath my pillow. Those two items were critical to my overall health and well-being. Although to be found reading at bedtime often meant facing a fate worse than death, but I still took my chances because reading was my only escape.
The window above my bed was out of reach, too high to see anything except the smog-filled sky, and that dreary view seemed to envelop everything, even me. There were many occasions when I was ordered to stay confined to my bed, so I would perch on the edge of my pillow, setting the gauge on the quarter-sized timer that I’d bought for ten cents at the swap meet. The dial was hard to turn and always hurt my hand whenever I tried. But somehow, the ticking noise that abruptly followed after spinning the dial made it all worth it. My spirit was somehow calmed and comforted by the tic, tic, tic. The tiny treasure gave me hope that one day I wouldn’t be forgotten, and I thought perhaps someone would come and rescue me before the buzzer sounded. Sadly, most days, I was just shushed back into silence once the dial made its final round. I always wished the familiar chime would mean certain freedom, but that was just another lie I kept choosing to believe.
© 2020 Michelle Cook